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17 Handpicked books to enjoy this autumn

BY Farhana Gani

1st Jan 2015 Book Reviews

17 Handpicked books to enjoy this autumn

These books are new and noteworthy, with a few you might have missed during your busy summer. You’ll find debut fiction, social satires, thrillers and a brilliant look at American society today. What will you read next?

The Underground Railroad

by Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead review

This book is going to win a lot of awards and deservedly so.

Cora is a young slave working on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Her wretched life is made worse after her mother disappears without so much as a goodbye. Escape is the last thing on her mind as her every moment is spent on survival. And then Caesar insists Cora join him in his bid for freedom via the underground railroad.

A sharp, brilliantly written fictional tale about history, people and the situations they find themselves in. Colson Whitehead is a MacArthur Fellowship recipient (also known as the “genius” award) and this book has been selected by Oprah for her book club. Expect a lot of noise!

The Underground Railroad is published by Doubleday Books



Dear Mr M

by Herman Koch

Dear Mr M

Herman Koch’s hair-raising social satire, The Dinner, shook us up and the word-of-mouth turned this obscure Dutch writer into a household name. The fact that his book is now being turned into a Hollywood movie also helps!

With Dear Mr M, Koch has done it again. Prepare yourself for a tense ride, dusted throughout with his signature sardonic wit and sharp insight into the worst of human behaviours.

Dear Mr M is published by Picador



The Good Immigrant

by Nikesh Shukla

the good immigrant by nikesh shukla review

Everyone needs to read this timely and well-conceived collection of 21 essays about what it means to be an immigrant and non-white in Britain today. JK Rowling tweeted her support when this crowd-funding venture was first announced and continues to fly the flag for this important book.

The essays, by black, Asian and minority ethnic writers, are insightful, informative, moving, entertaining and provocative explorations of how it feels to exist in a society dominated by whiteness.

In our post-Brexit land, where the ‘foreigner’ is often finger-pointed by politicians and the media, The Good Immigrant allows ‘the other’ to be heard, and for that it is essential.

The Good Immigrant is published by Unbound




by Jonathan Franzen


Tim Adams described Jonathan Franzen’s latest novel in the Guardian as "piercingly brilliant and seductively intelligent". He’s right!

Franzen is arguably one of the best writers in America today. His previous bestsellers The Corrections and Freedom, both masterful satires about family and society, have won him countless awards.

Purity is no exception. It’s about secrets, surveillance, mass media and a murder. It’s also very funny.

Purity is published by Fourth Estate



You Will Know Me

by Megan Abbott

You Will Know Me

Megan Abbott has a large fan club, growing larger with each new novel she brings out. She has a talent for creating nail-biting suspense and her cunning new thriller is a reminder that the scariest people out there are those we think we know best.  

Meet 15-year-old Devon Knox, an exceptionally talented Olympic gymnastics hopeful. She is at the centre of her parents’ universe, they see to their magical daughter’s every need. Her coach runs a tight ship and Devon relies on him heavily. Then tragedy strikes and lives and lies start to unravel.

You Will Know Me is published by Picador




by Benjamin Warner


This terrifying literary thriller feels very real. It could happen. In the wake of a disaster, the Chapmans are not only traumatized but also begin to suffer from the heat. The power is cut and there is no running water. Their thirst is growing and it becomes increasingly apparent that help isn’t on the way.

A sense of unease thickens in the stifling night air as the whole community begins to suffer the effects of heat, thirst, and anger. What would you do if the water ran dry?

Thirst is published by Bloomsbury



The Long Room

by Francesca Kay

The Long Room

The award-winning novelist's third book is a stunning examination of the inner life of a melancholy man. Set in London during the 1980s, the nation is glued to Brideshead Revisited on TV as Stephen Donaldson carries out the covert and lonely task of listening in on private conversations.

His job is to identify revolutionaries and terrorists and in his desperate isolation he falls for the wife of a potential traitor after becoming mesmerised by her voice. When he’s told the target is no longer of interest, Stephen takes matters into his own hands.

The Long Room is published by Faber and Faber



Wilde Lake

by Laura Lippman

Wilde Lake

A moving and psychologically complex mystery about the life of Luisa ‘Lu’ Brant, the newly elected state prosecutor of Howard County, Maryland. Widowed at 39, she’s returned home to live with her father and brings up her twins with the help of Teensy, the housekeeper who also brought her up.

Hungry for success, Lu is working on a tough case: a mentally disturbed drifter is accused of murder. As she prepares for the trial, the case dredges up memories of the night her brother saved his best friend at the cost of another man’s life. Lu finds herself questioning everything around her.

Wilde Lake is published by Faber & Faber




by Marc Raabe (debut)

Cut by Marc Raabe review

Available in the UK at last! This is the serial killer thriller that took Europe by storm when it was first published and is now translated into English for the first time.

When he was a child Gabriel Naumann witnessed a horrific crime. Nearly 30 years later, his girlfriend is snatched. Then the messages begin. Someone knows about his past and about what he did. If you’re a fan of Stieg Larsson, you’re in for a chilling treat…

Cut is published by Bonnier



Tony and Susan

by Austen Wright

Tony and Susan

Since 1993 (when it was first published) readers including Ian McEwan, Ruth Rendell and Saul Bellow have been waxing lyrical about this dazzling book about love and bloody revenge.

Many years after their divorce, Susan Morrow receives a strange gift from her ex-husband. A manuscript that tells the story of a terrible crime. How could such a harrowing story be told by the man she once loved? And why, after so long, has he sent her such a disturbing and personal message?

Soon to be a major film directed by Tom Ford starring Jake Gyllenhaal, titled Nocturnal Animals.

Tony and Susan is published by Atlantic Books



The Museum of Things Left Behind

by Seni Glaister

the museum of things left behind

A wonderful and very funny debut novel about an imaginary society and the upheaval caused by a visiting VIP, in the shape of a girl arriving to fulfil a Duke of Edinburgh Award requirement.

Welcome to the (almost) Utopian country Vallerosa where money doesn’t matter as much as tea! This book feels like a hidden treasure. It casts a satirical eye on capitalism and on the subtle power of women.

You’ll find yourself reading it quickly but you won’t want it to ever end. And you’ll smile a lot.

The Museum of Things Left Behind is published by Fourth Estate



The Outrun

by Amy Liptrott (debut)

The Outrun

This year’s winner of the Wainwright Prize for the best UK nature and travel writing.

Amy Liptrott has written an astonishingly brave and brutally honest memoir of her self-imposed exile to the remote Scottish island of Orkney, in a bid to overcome her alcoholism.

The writing is as stunningly honest and raw as it is beautiful—one of the finest accounts in recent times of our place in the natural world.

The Outrun is published by Canongate Books



Selection Day

by Aravind Adiga

Selection Day

Adiga won the Man Booker Prize in 2008 for his debut novel, The White Tiger. His latest novel centres around 14-year-old Manju, growing up in Mumbai, who is as obsessed with cricket as he is with CSI. He fears and resents his controlling father as much as he looks up to his brilliant older brother.

Manju isn’t sure of himself and when he gets to know his brother’s rival, a boy as privileged and confident as Manju is not, the world takes on a different hue.

This is a riveting and satirical coming-of-age novel about modern-day India’s inequalities.

Selection Day is published by Picador



The Private Life of Mrs Sharma

by Ratika Kapur

The Private Life of Mrs Sharma

Renuka Sharma is a dutiful wife, mother, and daughter-in-law living modestly in Delhi, working as a receptionist, while her husband works in Dubai, trying to earn enough for a better future together. Life is uneventful until the day she strikes up a conversation with an uncommonly self-possessed stranger at a Metro station.

Although Mrs Sharma embraces a traditional way of life, India is rapidly changing, and anyway, where’s the harm in taking a small risk every once in a while? The old and the new clash in this social satire, from a dramatic new voice in Indian fiction.

The Private Life of Mrs Sharma is published by Bloomsbury



Bright Precious Days

by Jay McInerney

bright precious days

A new book by Jay McInerney is always an event. His writings—short stories, novels, essays—are widely reviewed and dissected by readers and critics alike. And especially so with this latest novel, the third part in his series that began with Brightness Falls (in 1992) and continued with The Good Life (set against 9/11), chronicling the charmed life and times of a Manhattan couple and their entourage.

This latest chapter follows in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and presents its impact on the middle class and middle-aged Calloways, confirming yet again that McInerney is the modern master of the complexities of Generation X.

Bright Precious Days is published by Bloomsbury



Another Day in the Death of America

by Gary Younge

Another Day in the death of America review Gary Younge

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013. It was just another day in America; an unremarkable Saturday on which ten children and teens were killed by gunfire. The youngest was nine; the oldest was 19.

White, Black, and Latino, they fell in suburbs, hamlets and ghettos. There was no national news coverage, no outrage. It was just another day in the death of America, where on a daily average seven children and teens are killed by guns.

Younge picked this day at random to examine the cultural politics of the most powerful country in the world. What emerges is a searing portrait of childhood and youth in contemporary America.

Another Day in the Death of America is published by Faber & Faber

Listen to Gary Younge in conversation for our podcast special:



The Vegetarian

by Han Kang (translated by Deborah Smith)

the vegetarian by han kang review

Winner of the Man Booker International Prize, 2016, this highly original tale is about an ordinary couple.

Yeong-hye is a dutiful wife to an office worker and they enjoy an uninspired conventional existence. Until Yeong-hye decides to give up eating animals.

In South Korea, where vegetarianism is almost unheard-of and customs and traditions are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye's decision is a shocking act of subversion.

The Vegetarian is published by Portobello Books



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